John Carpay – Epoch Times
The Senate Standing Committee on Indigenous Peoples has released a 30-page report titled, “Honouring the Children Who Never Came Home: Truth, Education, and Reconciliation.” The report includes a recommendation “that the Government of Canada take every action necessary to combat the rise of residential school denialism.”
In similar fashion, Stephanie Scott, the executive director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, says that support for “denialism” must be dealt with by legislation.
The report fails to define “denialism” specifically, but says that it “serves to distract people from the horrific consequences of Residential Schools and the realities of missing children, burials, and unmarked graves.” This suggests that “denialism” likely means any disagreement with the dominant narrative that Indian Residential Schools were unmitigated racism, genocide, or another form of pure evil.
Whether this dominant viewpoint is correct or not, the belief that government, with its massive resources and coercive power, should be in the business of “combatting” a minority viewpoint is frightening, and anathema to liberal democracy.
Only repressive regimes (whether fascist or National Socialist or theocratic or communist) are in the business of using government resources to “combat” the “wrong” opinion. The cause of truth is violated when government uses its power to indoctrinate citizens with the “correct” viewpoint. In contrast, the cause of truth is served by humble and open-minded inquiry, by the expression of multiple opinions, including wrong and provocative ones, and by frank and honest debate. This messy and unregulated process, regardless of what issue is being debated, will invariably include comments made by people who may be ill- informed, and even from those who do not act in good faith. The free society assumes that adults can decide for themselves what is true or false, right or wrong, good or evil, rather than having the government impose its “truth” on society.
According to Amnesty International, Saudi Arabian authorities publicly flogged blogger Raif Badawi, who had been sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison, for “insulting Islam” and founding an online forum for political debate. This is a practical example of what happens when government gets into the business of determining what is true or false. It is not difficult to think of numerous other examples across the globe, currently and in the past.
While Senate Committee Chairman Brian Francis and his colleagues are no doubt motivated by a sincere desire to achieve justice, their recommendation that governments use their massive resources to “combat” an “incorrect” opinion is the symptom of a toxic cancer that is slowly destroying Canada as a free society.
The study of history, like science, is rarely “settled.” Both history and science are about seeking truth through research, learning, and ongoing debate. Both prohibit sacred cows: All theories are and must remain vulnerable to being rationally disproven. New evidence, new facts, and new discoveries point to conclusions, but those who love truth leave the door open to the possibility that their conclusion could be wrong.
This love for truth is wholly incompatible with the senators’ attitude that their own viewpoint is so correct that taxpayers should fund its imposition on all Canadians.
The use of state resources to promote one opinion on a scientific or historical matter is nakedly totalitarian. Apart from that, the senators’ aggressive language calling on government to “take every action necessary” suggests that it would be okay for the government to punish the likes of Michelle Stirling, Mark DeWolf, and others who dare to disagree with the dominant narrative. Perhaps Sen. Francis would like to see the government “re-educate” journalists, academics, and other thinkers so that they will agree with him? After all, he believes that government should take “every action necessary” to “combat” the undefined “denialism.”
Sen. Francis and his colleagues would be well-served to do the hard work of refuting the opinions of those they disagree with. Not only would this earn them more respect, but engaging in debate would also serve the cause of truth and lead to a better understanding of our history.